The 25th Flora London Marathon had two highlights with best times of the year from Paula Radcliffe and Martin Lel. Radcliffe clocked 2:17:42 hours and achieved the third fastest time of all times. The Kenyan Lel won the race in 2:07:26. World record holder Paul Tergat (Kenya) was defeated as well as Olympic Champion Stefano Baldini (Italy) and London’s defending champion Evans Rutto (Kenya). 35,680 runners started at the jubilee race in London.
About one million people cheered on Paula Radcliffe, who won with a five minute gap in front of Constantina Dita (Romania/2:22:50). Susan Chepkemei (Kenya) came in third in 2:24:00.
The men’s race ended with a surprise. Martin Lel won the 42.195 k in very good weather conditions. Runner up was the World Marathon Champion Jaouad Gharib (Morocco/2:07:49) and third place was taken by the 2004 New York Marathon winner, Hendrick Ramaala (South Africa/2:08:32). Lel gained 55,000 Dollar prize money plus 25,000 Dollar for time bonuses. “It was the toughest race of my career but I was very well prepared. To run against those competitors is a big challenge”, explained 26 year old Martin Lel. Olympic Champion Stefano Baldini (Italy) finished fifth in at time of 2:09:25, while world record holder Paul Tergat (Kenya/2:04:55) became eighth clocking 2:11:38. Defending champion Evans Rutto (Kenya), who is coached by Dieter Hogen, merely finished tenth in 2:12:49. Rutto had won all of his three marathon races before.
Right from the beginning Paula Radcliffe left all her competitors behind. After a while, also the pacemakers couldn’t keep up with the world record holder who won London two years ago in 2:15:25 hours. The second fastest time of the world also belongs to Paula Radcliffe. “This is a very important victory for me”, the 31-year old said. She broke down in the Olympic Marathon race in Athens but came back at the New York Marathon last November. “The book is closed for me. I do not hang in there mentally. But this experience made me even stronger”, explained Paula Radcliffe. She had to accept her only defeat out of six marathon races at the Olympics. In Athens she had dropped out.
But once again the nation got a small shock during Radcliffe’s race. Great Britain’s most popular athlete for the past years suddenly stopped running and stood at the roadside. But it wasn’t as dramatic as in Athens. For everybody’s relief, she started running again after ten seconds. Later she apologized for shocking the fans on TV and on the roadside. „I am sorry that I have shocked the Nation but I had to rest for a moment. I had a stomach problem and after the short break it was better. Beside this, I felt really good”, said Paula Radcliffe.
Men: 1. Martin Lel (Kenya) 2:07:26 (Year’s world best), 2. Jaouad Gharib (Morocco) 2:07:49, 3. Hendrick Ramaala (South Africa) 2:08:32, 4. Abdelkader El Mouaziz (Morocco) 2:09:03, 5. Stefano Baldini (Italy) 2:09:25, 6. Jon Brown (Great Britain) 2:09:31, 7. Toshinari Suwa (Japan) 2:10:23, 8. Paul Tergat (Kenya) 2:11:38.
Women: 1. Paula Radcliffe (Great Britain) 2:17:42 (Year’s world best), 2. Constantina Dita (Romania) 2:22:50, 3. Susan Chepkemei (Kenya) 2:24:00, 4. Margaret Okayo (Kenya) 2:25:22, 5. Ludmila Petrowa (Russia) 2:26:29, 6. Benita Johnson (Australia) 2:26:32.